First of all, the new combat is a massive improvement and you guys are doing a great job with the game.
Having said that, there are things that need improved.
Right now, there is a very clear build path for a top tier pvp character. Heavy armor (specifically Silent Legion) and a legendary spear, or heavy armor and a Legendary battle-axe with a shield. The spear and battle-axe simply have the best move-sets, but the spear also has the advantage of reach. Strength, Grit, and Vitality are the most important stats for combat, and you’ll need the first perk from encumbrance for the heavy-armor build.
This creates a meta where all of the best players are very cookie-cutter, look exactly the same, use the same gear, and employ the same tactics. Of course, this can become very stale, and theory-crafting is non-existent.
One of the biggest influences for this situation is the fact that you have to commit to an exchange where you will certainly take damage, in order to deal damage. Sure, you can easily avoid damage if you want to, but you aren’t able to actually deal damage while avoiding damage. Characters stop in order to attack, simply walking will avoid attacks, and dodging avoids attacks indefinitely. Because of this, you have to catch someone while they’re attacking, which means that you’ll have to get hit with their attacks as well.
Of course, there is still room for tactical gameplay, but the best players are simply using the best gear, accepting the fact that they’ll have to exchange hits, and sprinkling a bit of tactic into the gameplay, in order to win the fight.
We need to be able to avoid being hit, while effectively countering with our own attacks. This means that dodges (ideally) wouldn’t put you so far outside of the enemy’s range, that you can’t hit them back. This also means that you need to be able to attack instantly after a dodge (or other action, like switching weapons). As of right now, when you dodge the attack of another player, all that has happened is putting a halt to the fight. No one took any damage, and nothing really happened. This creates the situation where you must commit to simply trading with the other player, so you’re essentially involved in a stat-war, where tactics have far less of an impact than the gear you’re using.
Right now, you have to completely stop moving in order to attack. This is one of the reasons all fights consist of trading damage, rather than a purely tactical engagement. Sure, you can still be tactical, but more than anything, combat is a stat-war, with a small amount of tactics sprinkled into the mix.
Bows are utterly useless in pvp. Obviously this needs fixed, very badly. I imagine you don’t want them to be over-powered, because right now you have to stop moving in order to attack someone, so if an archer wants to avoid damage indefinitely, they can, but the way to fix that problem isn’t to just ruin archers, it’s to fix the fact that you’re basically stunning yourself every time you swing a weapon.
Healing is a massive problem. Watch any fight between two experienced duelists. It will consist of them waiting to see if the other over-extends, a little bit of dodging and playing safe, followed by both of them simply attacking each other simultaneously, then disengaging and healing. This is because it’s nearly impossible to hit someone while they’re moving away from you (even just walking), so the optimal way to play is to simply disengage when you’re low on health, and heal back to full HP, before going in again.
Damaging and stunning your clan-mates makes large scale battles chaotic. Especially since everyone has massive hit boxes and huge aoe attacks, and you can basically mindlessly swing your weapon and hit someone standing nearly behind you. It’s impossible to avoid hitting your friends during raids or other large-scale battles.
Make it so that the amount that you’re slowed while attacking, scales with the total weight of your gear. That way, the trade-off for being able to mindlessly swing your weapon while absorbing damage, is not being able to chase someone down and kill them, unless they’re also in heavy armor. But a person in light armor can move much faster, while simultaneously attacking without having to stop moving.
This single, simple change, will diversify the meta massively, and keep the combat super interesting. It will also allow people to build something different than the same exact armor as everyone else on the server. With this single improvement, you will see assassins using double daggers and running around in light armor, people using one-handed swords and medium armor, etc…
Other stats (outside of strength, vitality, and grit) need to offer an advantage. This will help to diversify the meta, encourage creativity, and allow theory-crafting. Agility needs to affect your movement speed (while wearing armor) far more dramatically. I’d write something about accuracy, but I suspect that it works fine, and the problem with it is simply the fact that bows are very, very bad right now.
Hit boxes and attack areas need to be tightened up dramatically. This way it offers an advantage to get behind someone, to the side of them, or just make them miss in general. Right now, everyone can just button-mash the attack button, and know that the other player can not actually counter them. With a smaller hit box and small, precise attacks (rather than giant aoe attacks) you would be able to punish players after side-stepping and ending up behind them, as they mindlessly swing for the fences, with no regard for consequences.
Thanks for making a great game guys, and I look forward to seeing future improvements!